Friday, January 7, 2011

Kentucky vs Pitt BBVA Compass Bowl Prediction

A cat-tastic bowl game between the Wildcats and the Panthers as we wind down the bowl season. 

When: Sat 12PM
Where: Birmingham
Line: Pitt -4 (open -2.5)

Heading into the Cotton Bowl Friday night in bowl games I am 22-8 with a 7-4 record in ACC and SEC games.

Here are the three main areas I look at when making my bowl picks.

Who Has The Better Team?
Pitt ranks 42nd in the season ending Sagarin ratings with a Big East respectable 48th ranked strength of schedule. 

Kentucky ranks 66th with the 61st ranked strength of schedule.  That low of a schedule ranking shows how down the SEC East was this year.  The Wildcats were 1-3 vs the top 30 while the Panthers were 0-3.

UK's offense was very good this year scoring 33 points per game and 437 yards per game good for 13.3 yard per point.  However, the Wildcats will be without starting QB Mike Hartline was is suspended for the bowl game.  Pitt wasn't as explosive but was nearly as efficient with a 14 yards per point average.

Where Pitt has the advantage is on defense giving up 20 points per game and 299 yards.  UK had one of the more porous defenses in the nation giving up a point for every 12 yards allowed.
Edge: Pitt

Which Team Will Be Better Prepared?
Kentucky has a first year head coach Joker Phillips. 

Pitt has an interim coach Phil Bennett coaching the team though former head man Dave Wannstedt has been involved in bowl preparation.  Bennett has head coaching experience at the FBS level at SMU but never took them to a bowl game.  Wannstedt was 1-1 in bowl games as Pitt's head man.
Edge: Even

Which Team Will Be More Motivated?
This Pitt team has had to go through a lot since their last regular season game.  Their coach resigned, a new coach was hired, and then fired after a felony charge.

The Pitt Panthers say they want to win this game for their coach, but I wonder how strong that feeling will be without him on the sidelines. 
Edge: Kentucky

Although UK QB Morgan Newton played and started as a true freshman he has thrown just seven passes this season. 

Also, the Pitt offense is centered around a great running game.  Rush defense is the Wildcats defensive weakness.

Pitt 28 Kentucky 23
Confidence: 18

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